Consensus line: Ravens -12, total 44
Best line for CLE: Browns +13.5 – 5Dimes
Best line for BAL: Ravens -11.5 – Bet365
Current betting percentage: 68% action on the Ravens, 54% on the UNDER
Individual Team Trends:
Browns are 6-0 ATS in their last six games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game.
Browns are 9-19-2 ATS in their last 30 games following an ATS loss.
Ravens are 30-12-3 ATS in their last 45 games after scoring more than 30 points in their previous game.
Ravens are 1-6 ATS in their last seven home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
Under is 8-1-1 in Browns last 10 games following a S.U. loss.
Over is 7-0 in Ravens last seven games in September.
Under is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
Browns are 2-6 ATS in their last eight meetings.
Road team is 5-0 ATS in their last five meetings.
I wish I could say that tonight’s Thursday Night Football game is an intriguing matchup, but that would be an outright lie. The most intriguing part of tonight’s game will be seeing the REAL refs back in action, with Gene Steratore getting the call as tonight’s referee. As for the actual game, Baltimore has won eight straight games over their AFC North rivals, and the Browns enter this game as the only winless team in the AFC. Gambling was invented for games like this.
Despite Baltimore’s dominance over Cleveland in recent years, I’m a little hesitant to bet them in this spot because this could easily be a letdown game. The Ravens are coming off of an emotional last-second win over the Patriots, and it would be very easy for them to overlook this terrible Browns squad. Fortunately, though, I think Baltimore is capable of laying a complete egg in this game and still winning by a couple of touchdowns. There really is that much of a difference in talent between these two teams.
For starters, how is Cleveland going to move the ball in this matchup? In Brandon Weeden’s two starts against good defenses this year, he’s thrown for a total of 355 yards with one touchdown and six interceptions. He’s also been sacked six times in those contests and forced to throw a lot of balls while under pressure. The biggest knock on Weeden through his first three career NFL starts is that he has a tendency to stare down his receivers. Last time I checked, Baltimore has two of the league’s best ball hawks in their secondary with safety Ed Reed and cornerback Lardarius Webb. I’d be shocked if Weeden doesn’t end this game with at least a couple of turnovers.
It also won’t help that Weeden’s receiving corps is comprised of “Lieutenant Butterfingers” Greg Little, as well as Travis Benjamin and Josh Gordon, who have combined for nine career NFL catches. The Browns’ only reliable receiver (and I use the term reliable loosely) is Mohamed Massoquoi, and he’ll miss the game with a leg injury.
For the Browns to generate any sort of attack, they’ll have to rely heavily on running back Trent Richardson. I love the way Richardson runs and I think he’s going to be a great running back in this league. But right now, Cleveland’s offense is just way too dependent on him. All year long, opposing defenses will put an emphasis on stopping Richardson and making Weeden try to beat them downfield. So far, it’s worked. Richardson has run for just 3.5 yards per carry this season, and while his 5.9 yards per reception is decent, the majority of that yardage has been picked up in garbage time. Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees already has the blueprint for stopping the Browns, a job that won’t be difficult for his unit tonight.
On the other side of the ball, I can’t envision any scenario in which the Browns’ defense is able to limit the Ravens’ offense to less than three touchdowns (and that’s being generous). Joe Flacco has really emerged as a solid quarterback. Although he’s a complete moron for believing that he’s the best quarterback in the league, he has a solid case for being a top ten quarterback after his start to the season. Flacco has a ton of weapons at his disposal, and has done a great job of spreading the ball around this season.
With Browns’ star cornerback Joe Haden still serving a suspension for PED use, the Browns’ secondary continues to be ripe for the picking. In Cleveland’s two games without Haden at corner (he played in Week 1 against the Eagles), the Browns have managed to make Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick look like Joe Montana and Dan Marino. Cleveland has registered nine sacks in three games this season, but Baltimore’s offensive line is pretty stout, so I wouldn’t expect the Browns’ pass rush to be a huge factor either.
If by chance Flacco decides to have an off-game, it shouldn’t be too concerning because Ray Rice should have no trouble moving the rock on the ground. Cleveland ranks 25th in the league, allowing 4.5 rushing yards per attempt.
I almost always take double-digit underdogs in the NFL, but I just can’t find a reason to in this game. The only things that the Browns have going for them is that they hate the Ravens, and that Baltimore is coming off of a big win. Other than that, the Ravens have an edge in every other aspect. I don’t see this being a close game.
Prediction: Ravens 34, Browns 10
Recommendation: If this weren’t a primetime game, Baltimore would be a big play for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still like them in this spot, but it’s just a normal-sized wager. I can imagine there will be a ton of people playing teasers and getting Baltimore down to a 4.5-point favorite. It’s probably a good strategy if you’re concerned that this game could be close, but I’m just not a big fan of teasers in general, so I won’t be doing that. Good luck.